COLUMBIA — On his second tee-shot of the day, Austin Kuchta’s golf ball took a hop into the sand trap. Since he and his father were taking alternating shots, it was now Tim Kuchta’s concern.
“Oh, he’s trying to make it tough for me,” Kuchta joked about his 10-year-old son.
The result was a triple bogey — not the start they had hoped for. But a nice putt from Austin on the 16th hole helped make up some ground. He hit a 60-foot eagle putt just a few feet from the pin, setting up a birdie for his dad.
“Good job, buddy,” Kuchta said.
The Kuchtas competed in the Show-Me State Games as a parent/child golf team. Dressed in similar khaki cargo shorts and black shirts, the Columbia residents played the back nine holes in the 12-and-under division Sunday morning at A.L. Gustin Golf Course.
The competition featured 25 parent/child teams. Both players teed-off each hole and had the option of choosing whose ball they wanted to play. From there, players took turns until the ball was holed.
Austin, a Fairview Elementary School student, started learning golf at age 6. He said his dad taught him how to play the game, particularly “how to swing the golf club and what clubs to use on certain holes.”
Kuchta said he also began learning golf at age 6 from his father and has been playing ever since. He has played competitively and used to teach golf lessons to nearly 30 students. Now, he just enjoys playing recreationally and passing on what he has learned to his son.
“I’m still an avid studier of the game,” Kuchta said. “I enjoy teaching (Austin), like my dad taught me the game. I enjoy seeing him get excited about the game. It’s fun to teach him and see him have some success at it.”
Austin just wrapped up his baseball season for the Daniel Boone Little League where he was selected as a member of the All-Star team. Baseball left minimal time to practice golf, but he was excited to trade his bat for his clubs to participate in the Show-Me State Games.
“It’s fun playing with my dad,” Austin said. “He’s a good golfer.”
Last year was the first time they participated in the games. In their first attempt at the parent/child golf competition, they tied for first place with a 41.
This year, they finished fourth out of 10 teams with a 44, but they still enjoyed the opportunity to play together despite not winning.
“Did you have a good time?” Kuchta asked his son after they finished the last hole.
Austin grinned and emphatically nodded his head yes.
“It’s nice to be able to get out and play with him,” Kuchta said. “We started out slow, but we finished good. We’ll be back again next year.”